Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cadillacs and Clunkers

When speaking about the proposed $5.4 million performing arts center, Assistant Superintendent Mike Merrill was right: “We have significant difficulty maintaining the facilities we already have.” May 22, 2012— "To Be or Not to Be"

 For this very reason (difficulty maintaining facilities) CAL/OSHA showed up at Jenny Lind Elementary on Weds. May 30, 2012. It’s a reoccurring theme: aged portables, deferred maintenance, moisture, mold … and a lack of adequate funding (unless you're pulling enough money together to construct a $5.4 million dollar performing arts center) ... Watching the local school district handle money is sometimes difficult; its hard to tell if times are "good" or if times are "bad."  [Psssst ... Just thought you should know ... times are bad ... predicted to get worse.] CUSD administrators have noted this in their 2011-2012 Second Interim Budget Overview. (March 2012). If you read the report it uses words like: reduction, streamline, eliminate, consolidate, and deficit. The report is basically letting the community know how depressed the current economy is, and how this depression is impacting the school district's budget. It makes sense and seems accurate.

With that report and those words (eliminate, consolidate, and deficit) in mind, the recent decisions concerning facilities and funding seem to be blindly and recklessly made. The administration doesn't appear to be reading it's own report. Scraping the money together to fund the performing arts center is like buying a brand new Cadillac (Escalade) even when you openly admit (and know) that you can't afford the monthly payments, the insurance, or even the gas to drive it around town. And, since you can't afford to drive it (the Escalade), you park it out in the driveway (or somewhere on your property) with all your other cars [aged portables] that are slowly deteriorating in the California weather.
     "Why did you buy it," the neighbor will ask? "I mean it looks nice, but its going to quickly fade and deteriorate sitting here in the driveway; just like all these other cars."
     The proud Escalade owner will say "It seemed like a good idea at the time. We couldn't let the financial opportunity pass us by. Unfortunately, we can't afford to put gas in it right now; but we are hoping it will keep its luster (and value) until we can afford to actually use it. In the meantime, we just hope our plans to make the monthly payments can be upheld."
    The neighbor will just scratch his head and smile. "Seems like you could have used that money to haul off some of these older clunkers you have around here. This neighborhood would be a lot nicer (healthier and safer) if you just got rid of these clunkers--they're not functional anymore. And, just so you know, that Escalade really seems out of place. What were you thinking?"
     "We just wanted to be like our friends (in Angels Camp); they have a really nice car ... "
     "But you don't have the money to insure this one or even to put gas in it!" The wise neighbor will say, "Listen: start by regaining the respect of your friends and neighbors: they would think highly of you if you returned the Escalade and started getting rid of the clunkers. Your neighbors know you can't afford to keep the Escalade. Everyone is having hard times."
    "But its so beautiful!" says the Escalade owner. "Even if I can't drive it, I like looking out my living-room window and admiring its sleek body and shiny paint job."
     "Start with the clunkers," the neighbor says. "Start with the clunkers."

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